National Aeronautics and Space Administration Logo
Follow this link to skip to the main content NASA Banner
Solar System Exploration
Sun: Overview
   Education   Missions   News   FAQ 
   Overview   Read More   Gallery   Facts & Figures 
Color image of the sun.
Plasma erupts from the sun in the shape of a massive handle.

10 Need-to-Know Things About the Sun:

  1. The sun is a star. A star does not have a solid surface, but is a ball of gas (92.1 percent hydrogen (H2) and 7.8 percent helium (He)) held together by its own gravity.
    Illustration showing Earth's tiny size compared to the sun.
    Earth compared to the sun.
  2. The sun is the center of our solar system and makes up 99.8% of the mass of the entire solar system.
  3. If the sun were as tall as a typical front door, Earth would be about the size of a nickel.
  4. Since the sun is not a solid body, different parts of the sun rotate at different rates. At the equator, the sun spins once about every 25 days, but at its poles the sun rotates once on its axis every 36 Earth days.
  5. The solar atmosphere (a thin layer of gases) is where we see features such as sunspots and solar flares on the sun.
  6. The sun is orbited by eight planets, at least five dwarf planets, tens of thousands of asteroids, and hundreds of thousands to three trillion comets and icy bodies.
  7. The sun does not have any rings.
  8. Spacecraft are constantly increasing our understanding of the sun -- from Genesis (which collected samples of the solar wind and returned the particles to Earth) to SOHO, STEREO, THEMIS, and many more, which are examining the sun's features, its interior and how it interacts with our planet. .
  9. Without the sun's intense energy there would be no life on Earth.
  10. The temperature at the sun's core is about 15 million degrees Celsius (27 million degrees Fahrenheit).

Read More About the Sun Blue arrow

Homework? We can help. Link to sun homework helper page.
Just the Facts
Distance from Earth:  149,597,900 km
Mean Radius:  695,508 km
Volume:  1,409,272,569,059,860,000 km3
Mass:  1,989,100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg
21 Jun 2014: 
Summer Solstice
4 Jul 2014: 
Earth at Aphelion
23 Sep 2014: 
21 Dec 2014: 
4 Jan 2015: 
Visit the Sun
Visit the Sun
People Spotlight
Nancy Roman Nancy Roman
"Many people made it clear that astronomy was not a field for a woman, but I am glad I was stubborn. I have had a wonderful career! Read More...
Science & Technology Features
Awards and Recognition   Solar System Exploration Roadmap   Contact Us   Site Map   Print This Page
NASA Official: Kristen Erickson
Advisory: Dr. James Green, Director of Planetary Science
Outreach Manager: Alice Wessen
Curator/Editor: Phil Davis
Science Writer: Autumn Burdick
Producer: Greg Baerg
Webmaster: David Martin
> NASA Science Mission Directorate
> Budgets, Strategic Plans and Accountability Reports
> Equal Employment Opportunity Data
   Posted Pursuant to the No Fear Act
> Information-Dissemination Policies and Inventories
> Freedom of Information Act
> Privacy Policy & Important Notices
> Inspector General Hotline
> Office of the Inspector General
> NASA Communications Policy
> NASA Advisory Council
> Open Government at NASA
Last Updated: 19 Dec 2013